Paul Krugman Reveals an Unsettling Truth About Trump's Taste for TV Stars

Earlier this week, Donald Trump called supporter Roseanne Barr to personally congratulate the actress on the "huge" ratings for the revival of her show, "Roseanne." For any other president, it would have been a bizarre gesture, but for Trump it made perfect sense. As Paul Krugman argues in his Thursday column, the former host of "The Apprentice" treats his entire presidency as one giant television spectacle. "Unfortunately," Krugman writes, "what looks good on TV isn't necessarily good for the America, or the world."


Take Trump's recent appointment of Dr. Ronny L. Jackson to head the Department of Veterans Affairs. Jackson has no experience leading a government organization. In fact, his only qualifications seem to be that he gave the president a mostly clean bill of health, and he's a United States Navy rear admiral who looks good in a uniform. "Once you start looking at the Trump administration as an exercise in publicity, not policy, you see signs of it everywhere," Krugman continues.

Larry Kudlow isn't an economist; he just plays one on TV. Over the course of his illustrious television career, he's been wrong about nearly everything, infamously predicting that the "Bush boom" would continue mere weeks before the economy began its crash in 2007. Yet Trump has named him his chief economic adviser, seemingly after deciding that Kudlow looked "very handsome" on CNBC

This hiring strategy has already backfired in spectacular ways. After tapping "Apprentice" villain Omarosa Manigault-Newman to do, well, whatever it was she did at the White House, the reality TV star took to "Big Brother" to publicly ridicule the administration following her dismissal in December.

"The empty-calorie genres of reality shows and cable punditry, which fill the hours with ginned-up conflict, can be a strange fit for the more consequential environment of the White House," writes Krugman. "The Newman uproar, in particular, seemed to knock some of Washington’s more levelheaded commentators off kilter."

Ultimately, Trump's desire to surround himself with media personalities reveals a more unsettling truth not only about his presidency but his entire political project—namely that he has no actual policies to speak of.

"He doesn’t seem to see actual policymaking as important," notes Krugman. "Instead, he treats it all as an exercise in reality TV."

Read Paul Krugman's column at the New York Times.

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